Suspending

Given the current state of the economy in the US, I am suspending all blog postings until further notice. I encourage all other bloggers to join me in a show of solidarity. Blogging will resume when the fundamentals of the economy are more sound.

I suffered so you didn’t have to

I can’t help it. I’m a political junkie. I have the CNN Political Ticker, Politico, and the latest poll results on RealClearPolitics on constant reload. But I realize that some people actually have to sleep. Or so I’ve heard. Anyway, the bottom line is that I stayed up through all the speeches, the confetti, and commentary to bring you the concise summary. Here goes.

Democratic National Convention

Day 1 – Commentators spend most of the day wondering if Ted Kennedy will show up. He does. Surprisingly, no one seems to wonder if Michelle Obama would show up, but she does as well. I thought she was going to give a speech but she turned out to be a warm-up act for the Obama kids, who stole the show.

Day 2 – Hillary Clinton gives her acceptance speech. Except she didn’t win. Doh!

Day 3 – Bill Clinton talks like he and Obama go way back. Hillary running for president? Oh, we were just getting Obama ready for the election. Kinda like training. Biden comes on stage and tells America his plan for helping the country: telling everyone to get back up on their feet after they’ve been knocked down. Says “champ” and “folks” a lot.

Day 4 – Extended tribute to MLK. Then someone remembers that Obama happens to be here too and lets him speak. Unlike previous speeches where he was vague about his plans for the country, he clarifies that he “gets it” and reassures us that he will “pay for every dime.” Demonstrates his leadership ability by pointing his finger at the camera and looking really serious.

Republican National Convention

Day 1 – Cancelled.

Day 2 – Bush appears on a large screen…it’s kind of creepy, almost like he’s Big Brother spying on his own people (wait a sec…). Lieberman comes out and tricks the republicans into cheering for Bill Clinton.

Day 3 – A parade of speakers. Romney sneers at the rich east coast elitists (wait a sec…). Huckabee makes some wisecracks. Giuliani insults community organizers. I think this is some sort of VP audition. McCain then puts on some sort of practical joke where he pretends that he’s selected someone with no national experience who has been Governor of Alaska for less than two years to be his running mate. I don’t think it worked that well – it wasn’t even obvious that he was joking, but come on…

Day 4 – McCain’s POW story is told by about 10 different people. The man himself then comes out with his standard green background and gives a long speech about how he’s right and the other guy is wrong.

The best part of both conventions is that each one consisted of several days emphasizing party unity and attacking the other party followed by a speech about how the candidates will emphasize bipartisanship.

BREAKING NEWS: Obama’s VP is…

That’s right Obama/Jobs ’08!

Okay, it’s not really true. But it might as well be. 

Both have mastered the art of wasting a great deal of my time.

Let’s start with Jobs. A few times a year, there’s a big Apple announcement of some sort where some exciting new product is going to be announced. Apple starts by cryptically emailing out these invitations to reporters. They usually consist of a picture, a mysterious tag line (e.g. “The beat goes on” or “It’s showtime”), and the time and place of the event. There’s a gallery of some of them here. Once these go out, they immediately kick Apple rumors sites into high gear, publishing all sorts of theories about what the great new “must have” item will be. If you’re an Apple junkie like me (admitting it is the first step), then you surf the rumor sites for a few days before the event. The night before, you can’t sleep. Your mind is racing. Since these events are inevitably held in California and don’t get started until 10AM or so PST, you end up spending the whole morning unable to concentrate.  Then the event begins.

But it’s not over yet. It’s not like Apple just broadcasts these things live. No, you have to rely on “live bloggers” acting like virtual stenographers in Steve’s court. Since there are actually a lot of people like me, the live blogging rumor sites can run into technical problems from the high demand and some go down. Obviously, you have to keep several of these websites open at once to stay on top of what is happening. After it’s all over, Apple finally releases a recording of the whole event. Even though you know everything that happened, you have to watch the whole thing again just to get the full experience.

Now Obama’s gotten into this too. Delivering the VP announcement via text message. Brilliant. I thought it would save me time, so I signed up. That way, I won’t be distracted (Macworld-style) and waste time reloading CNN, Politico, and Yahoo News continuously for updates. But then you’re at work and you start to wonder…what if the cell companies get overloaded with the text messages…maybe there’s a scoop right now on CNN…gotta check it out…

At least Steve has the consideration to TELL you when he’s going to make his announcements. Barack leaves you hanging. What a team they would make.

If it’s Sunday…

About 3 months after my son was born, I realized the degree to which my life had changed. One thing was clear: there was no more time for TV. Cable was soon cancelled and my TV watching was reduced to a bare minimum. Even though I was cable-less, I was able to occasionally tune in using my computer and downloading shows from iTunes. Still, I had to be frugal with my time, and there were only two shows which I made it a point to watch every week (albeit usually on my iPhone and often as audio only): 60 Minutes and Meet the Press.

Toward the end of Meet the Press. Tim Russert would say “we’ll be right back,” but the show was basically over. He’d just return briefly to close the show. It always seemed to come too soon and made me feel kind of cheated, but at least I could look forward to the next week.

Today, I feel kind of cheated, but I don’t think there’ll be any relief next Sunday.

It’s Over Now

Back in college, I was a big fan of a band called “Cause and Effect.” They were reminiscent of Depeche Mode, but had a slightly different sound which mutated after one of their two members died of an asthma attack. When they regrouped as a trio and released a second album, the first single was a track called “It’s Over Now”.

“I guess it’s over now
I think we’ve reached the end”

That song came to mind after yesterday’s Democratic primary results emerged. I expected (and predicted) that Clinton would win Indiana while Obama would triumph in North Carolina, but this so called “split decision” was nothing of the sort. It was an Obama victory, pure and simple. After trimming Clinton’s margin to 2 percentage points in Indiana while hoisting the trophy of a 14-point North Carolina victory, Obama’s speech felt like a victory speech. Even after a few minutes, one fact became evident.

Obama’s back.

This was not the tip-toeing, cautious, defensive Obama of the past several weeks when he was dogged by Reverend Wright’s damaging speeches. This was the confident, assertive Obama of “Houston, I think we’ve achieved liftoff” of the post-Wisconson era.

What happened? Clinton NEEDED a decisive victory last night to stay competitive by any stretch of the imagination (in reality. let’s face it, it’s been a long shot for some time now). She needed to chip away at Obama’s lead. It didn’t happen. Will she bow out? Probably not. Why should she? Even if there’s the slimmest of chances that some disaster could befall Obama, why drop out? Look, even Ron Paul is still in the race.

Staying in keeps Clinton in the national spotlight, even if it’s at the edge of the spotlight. The spotlight is where you have to be to succeed in politics, and Clinton has still got plenty of time to build her career in the Senate (and even to plan a future White House run). She can keep pressure on her to drop out to a minimum by cutting down the anti-Obama rhetoric. There’s less pressure now that the hope of victory appears to have slipped completely out of reach.

It’s over now. And it’s all right with me.

Obama Devastates Clinton With Critical Win

Barack Obama today dealt his rival Hillary Clinton a devastating blow with a decisive win in the critical territory of Guam. This territory is thought of by many as a political bellwether and was seen as a “must win” for Clinton. With a final vote tally of 2264 to 2257, Obama not only won, but did so with an impressive 7-vote margin. Many political pundits, as well as superdelgates, were watching this race closely. The results do not spell good news for Clinton’s flagging campaign, which clung to a recent victory in Pennsylvania in an attempt to reenergize. Had she been able to keep Obama’s margin within 1-2 votes, she might have been able to stem the now-expected tide of superdelegates to Obama’s camp. Her only hope now is to cling to an expected victory in Indiana’s upcoming primary as evidence that her campaign still has some credibility. For many Democratic Party insiders, however, this will likely be too little, too late.